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Are You Ready for a Large-Scale Facility?

August 24, 2016

Large-scale facilities are still in the infancy stage, yet quite a few professional cannabis growers have dollar signs in their eyes as they consider expanding. The power of large-scale facilities is profound and, with more states legalizing cannabis, such facilities about to become a massive economic force.

According to the 2016 Marijuana Business Factbook, the cannabis industry could have a $44 billion economic impact by 2020. However, competition is stiff, and owning and operating a large-scale facility comes standard with its own set of rules and drawbacks. But if you’re ready to grow big, there are top-notch design and consultant firms ready to make your dreams come true.

Getting your feet wet

Once you’ve purchased your space and received your license, getting a large-scale facility up and running requires a substantial amount of help, staying power and industry know-how. Engineering and design firm Cultivo Inc. of Woodland Hills, Calif., specializes in providing large-scale facility schematic design, consulting and custom equipment fabrication services. The firm assists clients with permit acquisition and facility optimization. Cultivo also offers both CAD and 3D rendering to dispensary or cultivation facilities, to assist business owners in the process of obtaining licenses.

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Autumn Karcey, Cultivo’s President, sheds insight on where owners should begin: Know your market and scale accordingly. “You have to understand what your current prospective patient database looks like, as well as down the road what it will look like in one to three years from the time you open your doors, so that you can plan, build and scale with foresight.” She added that the modern day large-scale facility owner must become educated in sensor systems, RFID tags, seed-to-sale applications and fail-safe sensors.

Designing and engineering

Even the savviest growers will find that large-scale facility designing and engineering is a massive undertaking. The vast difference between making your business model work and expected future revenue is evident only after you put in the time needed to make it work. Also, construction costs and timelines will vary state-to-state.

“It’s paramount to take the proper time needed during the design phase to really understand your budget from high-end to low-end, based on your proposed patient population,” Karcey said. “If you can’t financially afford the infrastructure to produce for your clientele, do not try to stretch your budget to fit and hope it will work out for the best.”

If a grower isn’t able to or can’t afford to go large-scale right away, Karcey recommends they start smaller and scale up as they create revenue—or else, consider taking on the right investors.

The bottom line stays the same: the larger the grow, the more difficult it can be to sustain. Large-scale facilities require more power, more cooling, more space and more resources than smaller facilities. In addition, members of the grow team must climb the learning curve of scaling large. As Karcey said, “You can build the nicest facility in the world, but if your operators aren’t of the highest caliber, you will only be as strong as your weakest link.”


By Nicole Stracek
Cannabis Cultivation Today articles are for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal guidance or advice on grow practices. You should contact an attorney or a qualified cultivation consultant for specific compliance and cultivation advice.

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